INDIE ROCK MEMOIRS: RESURFACING THE ACNE YEARS
EVENTUALLY THE REALIZATION HITS: EVERYONE'S ADOLESCENCE IS HORROR-FILLED. BUT, HECK, THAT'S WHAT "POIGNANT" LYRICS AND "DRIVEN" BASS-LINES ARE MADE FOR.
"Pop stars don't have problems." That assumption's not so unreasonable when you think about it. Theoretically we know that Paula Abdul must engage in human suffering like the rest of us. But when we hear her sing of teenage alienation and see her in Keanu's arms, do we actually believe she wrote "Rush, Rush" on yet another dateless Friday night? Mainstream music is much too coiffed to offer anything short of perfection. And while a meticulously mastered CD is a fine place to escape or aspire to, our greater passions and low self-esteem take us to a more inviting haven: the produce of independent record labels. Blessed with fewer audio cosmetics than their major label counterparts, "indie rock" records wear their musical blemishes proudly. Attracted to the anguish of their songs, we find solace in these imperfections, as well as in the fact that those responsible for them are real people who clearly have been afflicted by some humbling, unspeakable horror in their pubescent.
Mr. Lou "Gimme Indie Rock!" Barlow, whom you might remember from his Dinosaur Jr. days, is now seducing new fans as mostly front man for Sebadoh, the way-great, often acoustic, western Massachusetts combo who recently signed with Sub Pop. Lou reports that "high school was totally torturous. I never had a girlfriend and I didn't know how to talk to people." And he was still a tad shy when he talked to us about close contact sports and unrequited love.
"There was this girl who had a crush on me in the eighth grade. She invited me to a party at her house, and I never went to anybody's parties, ever. But [prompted by my mother] I went, and I found out that she had my name plastered all over her wall in her room." Lou only spoke "one or two words to her" that night, not because he was a jerk ass stick in the mud (see Sassy Glossary, "What Now"), but because he was just too shy. "And the next year, in high school, my gym teacher made me wrestle with her." Lou confirms that coed wrestling was not a normal activity at his school. "The gym teacher was just a total jerk, and he made me wrestle with her in front of everyone. He was doing it, like, having no idea that this girl had a crush on me the year before. He was doing it just to... kind of... because I was really quiet. And to really wrestle her I had to really work at it because she was really athletic and powerful. I couldn't let her beat me, because everyone would say that I got beaten by a girl. But I didn't want to hurt her and I didn't -- I just felt really embarassed. Yeah, and I felt totally horrible, because after we got done wrestling, everyone accused me of trying to feel her up or something. It was horrible, And just all the implications that the girl I was wrestling was also the girl who'd had my name plastered all over her room a year before."